Half Broke Horses

by

Jeannette Walls

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Jim Smith Character Analysis

Lily’s second husband, and the father of Rosemary and Little Jim. Jim is a big, blue-eyed man who first meets Lily after seeing her fall from the mustang Red Devil during a race. Raised by a famous Mormon with fifty-two children, Jim learned to fend for himself from an early age and is an excellent marksman and horse wrangler. His first wife died in the influenza outbreak, and he joined the cavalry during World War I. Despite being twenty years old than Lily, she admires his strength, calm and observant demeanor, and the fact that he owns a dependable business. Jim readily agrees to marry Lily when she asks, asserting that he has wanted to do so ever since he first saw her fall from Red Devil and get back on. He owns the only garage in Red Lake and teaches Lily to drive, something she grows to love. The two maintain an equal partnership throughout their marriage, working together to run their garage in Ash Fork and later their ranch. When the family moves to Phoenix, Jim gets a desk job and grows restless; Lily knows that he misses the satisfaction of manual labor and being able to work outdoors. Jim is a true ranching expert who is deeply in sync with the natural world. Though less willing than Lily to partake in schemes like selling bootleg liquor or digging through trash for recyclables, he is always a steady, supportive presence in his wife’s life. When he and Lily settle in Horse Mesa, he is happy to get a job driving a gravel truck, and upon retirement becomes the town’s unofficial mayor.

Jim Smith Quotes in Half Broke Horses

The Half Broke Horses quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Smith or refer to Jim Smith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Half Broke Horses published in 2010.
Chapter 4 Quotes

I discovered that I loved cars even more than I loved horses. Cars didn't need to be fed if they weren't working, and they didn’t leave big piles of manure all over the place. Cars were faster than horses, and they didn't run off or kick down fences. They also didn't buck, bite, or rear, and they didn't need to be broke and trained, or caught and saddled up every time you needed to go somewhere. They didn't have a mind of their own. Cars obeyed you.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Jim Smith
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

As Rosemary climbed into the car, Rex patted her behind like he owned it, then got in beside her. They were both still laughing as Rex gunned the motor the way he always did.

Jim put his arm around me and we watched them take off up the street, heading out into open country like a couple of half-broke horses.

Related Characters: Lily Casey Smith (speaker), Jim Smith, Rosemary, Rex Walls
Related Symbols: Half Broke Horses
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Half Broke Horses LitChart as a printable PDF.
Half Broke Horses PDF

Jim Smith Character Timeline in Half Broke Horses

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Smith appears in Half Broke Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...horse. She gets back on and finishes the race anyway. This impresses a man named Jim Smith, who Rooster says owns the town’s new garage. Jim says he can teach Lily... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Jim teaches Lily to drive on a Ford Model T. Lily realizes she loves cars even... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
It soon becomes clear that Jim is courting Lily, and though she is not interested in marriage, she admires his work... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...to let Lily bury Helen in the Catholic cemetery because suicide is a sin. Lily, Jim, and Rooster bury Helen at the top of a hill in Lily’s red silk shirt.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...grief. To do so she will need a husband, though. Lily decides that she trusts Jim Smith, and without hesitation or any grand gestures asks him if he would like to... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Jim and Lily marry in the classroom once school is out for the summer, with Rooster... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
When Lily is eight and a half months pregnant, Jim insists she stays home. She quickly gets cabin fever, and snaps at a pushy Jehova’s... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...notes is much more effective than Granny Comb’s pain management method. They call him Little Jim. (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...man who made money selling bootleg alcohol during prohibition, comes by and asks Lily and Jim to hide some cases of booze while revenuers are onto him. Lily realizes she can... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...and the ewes refuse to give milk to a lamb that is not their own. Jim has the idea of wiping the ewes’ noses with a kerosene-soaked rag, blocking their sense... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...full. The officers believe her and leave, and Lily is amused at having fooled them. Jim insists they get out of the bootleg business, however, and within six months the bank... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Lily and Jim decide to auction off their belongings and look for work in California. Before they leave,... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...different vehicles, ranging from covered wagons to a Chevy pickup truck. Lily knows she and Jim will have to play every role on the ranch, but that they are both prepared... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...having a reliable source of water would eventually bring in. The English investors visit, and Jim presents the idea; they agree, and soon enough they are able to get a bulldozer... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
With prices still low from the Great Depression, Jim is able to buy cattle for cheap and hire twelve cowboys to drive the cattle... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...herself and Rosemary, who has become more rambunctious after spending time out repairing fences with Jim. Lily drills her on arithmetic and spelling and worries that Rosemary is too unfocused, noting... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
That winter Lily and Jim buy a long-range radio, along with two giant batteries, since they still don’t have electricity.... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Over the next year, a serious drought occurs and Lily and Jim save the ranch by hauling drums of water from another town. When the rains return... (full context)
Chapter 6
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Jim convinces the English investors to buy the neighboring Hackberry ranch, which has a windmill with... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...she insists they stop. The pilot, whom she calls Goggles, is surprised that Lily, not Jim, wants the lesson, because he has never taught a woman before. Lily scoffs at being... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...teaching opportunities. He tells her about a remote job in a town of Mormon polygamists. Jim accompanies her and the children to help them settle in the town. Main Street is... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...200 miles every day to pick up and drop off her students. Rosemary and Little Jim also attend the class, and she paddles them often to make sure no one thinks... (full context)
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
...excited about Christmas lights, though, and the family cuts down a pine tree. That night Jim connects the lights to the hearse battery, and the sight astounds the children—as well as... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
...girls. Afterwards she refuses to apologize to the Deputy, and her contract is not renewed. Jim says she has a habit of getting into altercations, but Lily insists she just has... (full context)
Chapter 7
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Rosemary and Little Jim love to play together, and especially love to ride horses. They frequently get banged up... (full context)
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Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Sensing the kids need more “civilizing,” Lily and Jim send both to boarding schools. Lily vows to finish her degree and join the teachers’... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
...the academy after her second year because she is too disruptive. Both she and Little Jim are ecstatic to return to life on the ranch. By then, Lily has earned her... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...on, the military is using the railroad system to ship troops and equipment. Lily and Jim take the cattle to market when the train is available in December, and they bring... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...to learn to skin a steer, something she will need to know as a rancher. Jim agrees, and slaughters one a few days later. Lily reflects that unlike herself, Rosemary has... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...about proper ranching. They rename it the Showtime Ranch, tear down the buildings, and fire Jim and Old Jake, along with the primarily Mexican and Native American ranch hands, because they... (full context)
Chapter 8
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Lily and Jim get much needed dentures when they get to Phoenix, which makes Lily immensely happy. They... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Jim gets a job as a warehouse manager and Lily as a high school teacher. They... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Technology and Progress Theme Icon
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...entails lots of bureaucracy. She laments that there are “more rules for teachers than students.” Jim is also bored at his job behind a desk and misses the connection to nature... (full context)
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
...hits, the Department of Agriculture knocks on their door to say ranchers are struggling and Jim has been recommended to help. He eagerly travels to help the ranchers in a small... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
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Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
Gaiter calls Jim to offer him his job back managing the ranch, but he and Lily immediately agree... (full context)
Chapter 9
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...groceries delivered twice a week. They are all happy to be out of the city. Jim is content with his job driving a gravel truck, and Lily is happy to be... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
 Both Rosemary and Little Jim attend Arizona State. Little Jim is now bigger than his father and plays football. He... (full context)
Women’s Strength in a Man’s World Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...Rosemary is home from college, Rex comes to Horse Mesa and asks if Lily and Jim would teach him to ride a horse. They reluctantly agree and saddle up some neighbor... (full context)
Poverty and the American Dream Theme Icon
Connection to Nature Theme Icon
Fate vs. Self-Reliance  Theme Icon
...the time of her life. Afterwards she and Rex drive away, looking to Lily and Jim like “a couple of half-broke horses.” (full context)
Epilogue
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Lily and Jim stay in Horse Mesa, with Jim becoming the town’s unofficial mayor after he retires. Lily... (full context)